Who’s on first? Haven’t a clue – don’t really care… but Joan’s on Third and I do care about that. Why? Because “Joan’s On Third” is one of my favorite sandwich shops/cheese stores/‘bistros’ in Los Angeles.
My husband and I first met Joan McNamara when he produced a piece about her mac & cheese for the Food Network. I was in the process of designing a minor remodel of our kitchen taking it from a 50’s formica past to a modern-day New England farmhouse future, and was debating the use of marble for the counter-tops. I wanted marble, but friends and fellow designers were nixing the idea – it ‘stains.’ But I couldn’t get my great aunt’s farm and her kitchen out of my mind. Connecticut white/gray marble, wide-plank wood floors, white enamel sinks and wonderful country-kitchen faucets.
To help with the final decision, my husband took me to Joan’s On Third designed almost exactly the way I was envisioning our kitchen… all her tables and counters were honed Carerra marble (translation: the glitzy shiny surface was taken off) which is quite similar to the marble from Connecticut quarries. They looked gorgeous!! Just what I wanted. So we sat down with Joan and “talked” marble while we ate her fab mac & cheese. I explained all the stain warnings I had been receiving and she just smiled and said, “Patina.” When I realized she wasn’t sending me to a Joachim Splichal restaurant, I looked more closely at her counter tops and I saw exactly what she meant. There were tons of stains and spots and they all just blended into the stone. Patina!
OK, my mind made up – no granite for me (hey, I’m just not a granite girl) – I was going to fulfill my country-kitchen vision. To celebrate, Joan brought out her lemon bars. Full disclosure… I don’t like a lot of sweets, so my first bite was with much trepidation. What if I didn’t like them? Joan was still sitting with us and I knew I’d have to at least eat half. Well, nooooooooo problem. They are just plain amazingly delicious.
Here’s how to make them:
Joan’s on Third’s Lemon Bars
Total time: 45 minutes, plus
Cooling time for the crust
Servings: makes 9 bars
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
½ cup powdered sugar, plus more
for dusting the bars
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter w/ 1 cup flour and the powdered sugar, stirring just until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into an 8-inch square pan and bake just until lightly golden, about 16 -18 minutes. Remove and cool the pan on a wire rack to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, baking powder and remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk in the lemon juice and eggs until thoroughly combined. Pour the custard into the pan over the baked crust and bake again until it’s set, 20-25 minutes. Remove and cool the tart on a wire rack.
When cooled, dust lightly w/ additional powdered sugar and cut into bars. The lemon bars will keep for 1 week, refrigerated.
Each serving: 277 calories; 3 grams protein’ 42 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber, 11grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 74 mg. cholesterol; 44 mg. sodium
Joan’s On Third
8350 West Third Street
Los Angeles, Calif. 90048